Sangiovese under $15

Finding value in the land of Chianti and Cinghiale

Sangiovese is one of my favorite grapes. I probably consume more Sangiovese than any other variety, though usually in the guise of chianti or rosso di Montalcino. This group of wine represents the true value plays in Tuscan Sangiovese. often blended, in proportions that makes these similar to chianti, these wines take advantage of the enormous vineyards that lay between, yet outside of the more famous appellations of the region. While I tend to be a purist, preferring sangiovese blended with indigenous varieties or on its own, it’s impossible to argue with the success of these wines. this is not a recent phenomenon, as evidenced by both eh Monte Antico and Barco reale, two classic Sangiovese blends that have relied upon small additions of international varieties for years, and with fabulous results.

At this price it’s often fiscally impossible to produce the kind of sangiovese that can stand on its own. those of us of a certain age can remember that Sangiovese from cheap Chianti of days gone past. Thin, shrill, terribly high acid, and barely palatable with light, astringent red fruits. If it weren’t for the straw covered fiasci, which we diligently used as candle holders, many of us might not have even bothered with those wines. Today of course even cheap Sangiovese is better than it once was, but when cropped heavily, as sangiovese tends to want to do, the fruit just lacks concentration and depth, even if fully ripened. Adding in a well judged dose of cabernet or merlot can help fill out the midpalate and bring Sangiovese naturally high acids into balance. I prefer merlot to Cabernet for blending, finding that even modest amounts of Cabernet tend to dominate a wine, obscuring what Sangiovese brings to the blend. But still, the end results do speak for themselves.
These are wines, as a group, that have a remarkable affinity for foo. A byproduct of that acid, and gain nuance and complexity that they simply would not have if they were monovarietal. They are why I drink so much sangiovese. Fresh, medium bodied, lively in the mouth and with an elegance inexpensive wine rarely shows. There is a sea of unsold sangiovese in Italy, so we are fortunate in that regard. I expect these wines to continue to be great values, particularly the Monte Antico and Barco Reale which have both been models of consistency and value for decades.
80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
Big and deep on the nose with soft notes of leather, old wood, white pepper some new spicy wood and deep, minty black fruit that  shows a distinct medical and slightly candied edge. Bright and taut in the mouth with some rough tannins that need to integrate supporting lovely wild cherry and red currant fruit. The oak makes a distinct impression here, adding spice and a hint of vanilla sweetness to the palate but the fruit is able to handle it fairly well and remains bright, well defined and rich with plummy and wild cherry fruit and a bit of dried herbal spice. Big cherry fruit emerges on the backend and bursts out on the finish with medical undertones and just a hints of toasty wood on the finale. This is a big, rich wine with lots going for it but the oak might turn some off. 89pts
Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) 90%, Mammolo 10%
Deep and complex on the nose with an initial burst of leather and mineral followed by hints of thyme, toasted oak and nuts and dark berry fruit all topped with a hint of mint. Fairly rich and powerful with blast of plummy fruit early on the palate followed by dark cherry fruit, subtle mineral notes a lovely notes of tobacco and blackberries on the backend. Round, rich and in need of a bit of further cellaring this is a powerful wine that shows uncommon complexity, depth and finesse at this price or double this price. The only knock is that the finish is a bit short with some drying tannins but they may very well soften perfectly with time. For now serve this with a nice steak or stew. 88pts
85% sangiovese, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 5% Merlot 
Interestingly this is both dark and leathery as well as being spicy and bright on the nose with plenty of black currant and slightly jammy strawberry fruit. very focused on entry, with a whiff of oak accompanying the taut berry fruit. the tannins are very well managed here and the acid as well offering a mouthfeel that is precise and shows unusual cut for a wine for this price. Mineral and leather notes emerge on the backend along with some dried herb and fruit notes before this fades on the moderately long and nervous finish. The wood does become more prominent on the nose here but what really impresses with this wine is energy it retains and the nervous texture that one rarely finds at this price point. This remains a fabulous little wine that just lacks a bit of flavor intensity. 88pts
100% Sangiovese
A touch reduced on the nose but showing a fine array of dark fruits, wild herbs with a medicinal touch, dried flowers, red soil notes and fine dusky Tuscan spice notes with a lovely suggestion of white mushroom adding freshness. Rch and almost chewy on entry, there’s a nice base of tannin and acid here supporting the rich fruit but not really sticking out though the acid impression does grow in the mouth. the fruit is a bit towards the dark end for sangiovese with preserved wild strawberry and dark cherry flavors all wrapped up in earthy spice and savory herbal accents. There’s a lot going on here and it’s rather attractive with a blend of fruit and savory flavors but the wine does drop off a bit on the finish when the tannins finally take control. This needs food but is a pretty sophisticated choice at this price point. 87pts
90% Sangiovese 10% Merlot
A bit smoky and rocky on the nose with decidedly fresh aromas of crushed wild berries, sour cherries and wildflowers with a hint of peppery spice and leather.  Smooth and polished, though also fleshy and juicy, this feels terrific in the mouth with just a gorgeous texture. The flavors are a touch simply but pure and bright with notes of strawberry and blackberry blending effortlessly on the palate and gaining slight mineral and herb notes on the backend that really pop on the moderately long finish.  Tannins are soft, acids bright, and the blend of fruit, mineral and herb absolutely delicious. A fabulous value. 87pts
Sangiovese 50%, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%
Showing a bit of mocha and some old wood on the nose this offers up complex if slightly dirty aromas of plummy fruit, soil, moss and dried herbs. Soft and focused in the mouth, the dirty edge of the nose as smothered on the palate by lovely cherry fruit that shows good weight. The savory edge adds complexity here though the slightly dirty aspect does emerge again on the backend along with some clean, fresh blackberry and herb notes that really show good persistence on the long finish. 86pts
70% Sangiovese , 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot
Leathery, dark, earthy herbs,  and plummy, this shows more merlot on the nose than anything else with some fairly smoky accents. pretty large scaled onentry and rich with tart fruit that shows wild cherry, plummy and blackberry nuances. There’s not a ton of complexity here, just a mouthful of vibrant fruit with soft but present tannins and refreshing acidity that shows a bit of toasty spice on the backend before fading away with an attractively austere  finish. A fine juxtaposition of Sangiovese structure and rich modern fruit. 86pts
Sangiovese 75%, Alicante, Ciliegiolo, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah 25%
This smells great all filled with pomegranate, cranberry and sour black cherry fruit. A bit wild and wooly but very perfumed. A bit soft on entry, then fairly broad in the mouth, there’s some lovely grapey and tart fruit flavors and very modest, soft little tannins adding a bit of detail in the mouth but for the most part this is just simple and easy going. A classic table wine/ bistro styled wine that is perfect for a backyard BBQ or simple pasta dishes. try this Puttanesca. 84pts
75% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
Smoky with a hint of tomato on the nose followed by decidedly Cabernet and oak driven aromas of smoke, raw wood, dried herbs, plummy and black currant fruit. Bright, juicy and fairly black fruited onentry, this shows a nice initial wave of black raspberry fruit that is slightly jammy, then it drops off a bit on the midpalate which shows some hints of slightly jammy strawberry fruit with a fine herbal nuance, before fading away on the backend and modest finish. Pretty front loaded and pleasant but lacks depth and persistence. 84pts
85% Sangiovese 15% Cabernet 
A bit blackly fruited and herbal on the nose with the cabernet certainly showing through and some spicy sweetness with a little toasty oak nuance with a base of rusty strawberry fruit just keeping out. Smooth and fairly rich in the mouth with some rustic tannins and bright acidity lending this a bit of a rough and tumble feel in the mouth. Lovely strawberry and sour cherry fruit on the palate leads to a modest, rough edged finish, tart, cranberry finish. This needs food but is a fun fruity wine. 83pts
80% sangiovese, 20% cabernet Sauvignon
This is packed with smoldering herb, black currants and jammy black cherries on the nose.  A bit soft on entry and frankly fruity with some wild raspberry and blackberry notes early on the palate. This is a bit fleshy and made in a very friendly style with a nice touch of grape skin tannins and some well integrated acids which makes this well behaved at this price point but leaves the wine feeling a bit flat in the mouth. raw, simple and short on the finish with the tannins really taking control, this is a pleasant, rustic little fruity wine with attractive aromatics. 82pts
90% Sangiovese 10% Merlot 
Simple cherry and strawberry fruit greets the nose with some earthy and gamey nuance and a hint of truffle even. Round, plump and fruit, this is a bit of a one trick pony riding in on simple yet pleasant berry fruit in a smooth, polished package. There’s no finish to speak of and a touch of tannin emerges on the black cherry skin toned finish to add some textural appeal. 78pts

Top Value Sangiovese Tasted 2/14

Barco Reale di Carmignano. Capezzana (2010)
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Fattoria del Cerro Rosso di Montepulciano (2011)
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Antico Colle Rosso di Montepulciano (2009)
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Bibi Graetz "Casamatta" Toscana Rosso (2011)
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Fattoria Rodano Poggialupi (2011)
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Sportoletti Assisi Rosso (2011)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: petroniano
    1049228 20

    dear sirs, if you speak about sangiovese you have not to forget Sangiovese di Romagna. Romagna is the italian region north east Tuscany from the appennini hills down to the Adriatic sea, where are located Rimini and the small State of San Marino. Sangiovese di Romagna is DOC(denomination di origin controllata) and in this part of Italy is the RED wine . When labelled Riserva or Superiore is as good as a good Chianti and costs usually less than 15 Euros.
    Mauro Marabini

    Mar 11, 2014 at 10:19 AM

  • Snooth User: sjvaughan
    1473838 1

    Please unsubscribe me.

    Mar 11, 2014 at 2:58 PM

  • The Fattoria del Cerro Rosso di Montalcino sounds very nice. I'm curious about the 10% Mammolo. What is that grape? Does it go by any other names?

    Mar 11, 2014 at 8:25 PM

  • I have had a couple of these wines recently, Monte Antico and Carpineto, which I wrote blogs on Some of the others it's been awhile since I tried them, but nice selection of good valued, quality Sangiovese.

    Mar 12, 2014 at 7:15 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,876

    Couldn't agree more that Merlot is the ideal international grape for blending with Sangio in daily drinkers. In fact, it's the best use for Merlot yet. I've had blends with Cab and Syrah and the Sangio just loses prominence even at low amounts of the other grape. Merlot tames those acids, which is so important in marginal Sangio. Currently, I've been scoring Contemassi (distributed by the Bronco Wine Company, who brought you Two Buck Chuck--this almost makes up for it!) for $5 a bottle and, while it's not Cebaie or even Monsanto, on a Tuesday (including yesterday) with baked ziti, it's comfort food and wine for the masses. Speaking of that Monsanto, at under $18 a bottle, that's not a whole lot more money for a wine--Riserva, no less--that speaks Chianti loud and clear at just above your range. And Molino di Grace's basic Chianti Classico is right at $15 and a terrific wine. Lately, I'm drinking more Sangio than anything else--but let's not let too many folks in on the secret, eh?

    Mar 12, 2014 at 4:34 PM

  • Snooth User: kateSmith
    1479803 17

    I have tried this before and i thought it was OK.

    Mar 17, 2014 at 9:43 AM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,612

    I bought the Casamatta the other day at Costco for $7.87. I tried it last night and can't recall a better < $10 wine. Today, I clicked on the link in the in the "Syrah Under $15" article and found that it had been discussed here. We are returning to Costco, later today, to pick up some prescriptions. I'll probably pick up more of the Casamatta, also.

    Apr 08, 2014 at 4:39 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 204,842

    Pretty amazing what you can find if you're willing to experiment. $8, that is a steal!

    Apr 08, 2014 at 4:57 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,612

    Greg, are you still monitoring this? Here is an interesting follow-up.

    When I went back to Costco, the other day, they were out of the Casamatta. That is really not surprising for several reasons, but let me continue. Yesterday, I was at a favorite wine store that is not really close to home, Wine Club in Santa Ana, but I was in the neighborhood and dropped in. Well, I pretty much blew the budget within my first few steps in the store. I really like Lewis Cellars Cabernets and Chardonnays, and they had a display of multiple bottlings. So, into my cart they went. There was a clerk there who saw my interest in Lewis Chardonnay, and recommended some other California and Burgundy examples.

    Now, I'm just pushing my cart up and down the aisle to see what else might catch my eye and interest me. I'm in the Italian section, and there it is -- Casamatta for $8.99. OK it's a buck more than Costco, but who cares? So, into my cart go some Casamattas. When I was unloading and cataloging at home I noticed something unusual. Let me say at this point the graphics on the Costco bottles and the Wine Club bottles are the same -- big yellow-orange abstract splash above the text "Casamatta." However, the bottle from Costco was vintage dated 2011 and was described as "Toscana Indicazione Geografica Tipica." The bottle from WIne Club has only the word "Rosso" and is non-vintage. The Costco bottle does not have the word "Rosso" on it.

    I am not upset about this situation. I am relatively confident that I will enjoy the non-vintage Rosso as much as I enjoyed the 2011 Toscana IGT. I can see that others my be upset about the same packaging and the same generic name being applied to two different wines.

    As another aside, while continuing my wander through the aisles, I also picked up a bottle of the Del Cerro Rosso di Montepulciano ($10.98). I see that one was also reviewed in this article. Spooky

    Apr 15, 2014 at 6:22 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 204,842

    Yes, I'm still here.

    That is some tricky business though! I would try the wine but still, that just doesn't sit right with me.

    I hope you enjoy the Dei, another great value. More interested to hear your impressions of the Casamatta rosso. It should be fine but it is a bit of a bait and switch on the consumer.

    Apr 15, 2014 at 8:16 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,612

    Well, Greg, it's actually pretty good. The most obvious differences are that the NV Rosso version is neither as fruity nor as acidic as the '11 Toscana IGT. Certainly, inoffensive and, certainly at $8.99 not a rip-off, but not nearly the find as the one that you reviewed, above. Tonight is a clean-out-the-refrigerator extemporized dinner. So, I will be happy with this and Mrs. EMark will be happy with the Chardonnay that she opened, last night.

    Being a retired kinda guy, I have plenty of time to research things on the web. That's what it's for, isn't it? To teach me things. It is much easier to find articles and comments about the '11 IGT than the NV Rosso. However, there was this article from Wine Spectator posted about a year ago:

    It doesn't exactly say it, but the way I infer, the "Casamatta" label is going to be a non-vintage solera wine from now on. I'm guessing that the '11 was the last vintage Toscana IGT Casamatta,

    Here is a paper from the importer's site that talks a little about it, but really does not add that much over the WS article.

    Apr 21, 2014 at 7:39 PM

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